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API speculative fiction books

Hey Sistas y BrothasI know we all about Black Sci Fi up in here, but that means we got big brains and open hearts. Just wanted to hip you all to a list of API spec fiction books in honor of API heritage loveLisa Marie===================The CARL BRANDON SOCIETY recently recommended the following speculative fiction books for Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month:Ted Chiang STORIES OF YOUR LIFE AND OTHERS: A collection of stories from one of American speculative fiction's most precise and beautiful writers.Sesshu Foster ATOMIK AZTEX: An Aztec prince or a Los Angeles meatpacker? The protagonist travels back and forth between two alternative realities, never sure which is real.Hiromi Goto HOPEFUL MONSTERS: Wonderful stories by the author of The Kappa Child.Kazuo Ishiguro NEVER LET ME GO: In a dystopian England, three children discover that they are clones produced to provide organs to the sick.Larissa Lai SALT FISH GIRL: Science fiction set in a dystopian near future in which corporate enclaves house lucky employees, leaving most of humanity to deal with increasingly strange ecological developments.Amirthi Mohanraj (illustrated by Kat Beyer) THE POET'S JOURNEY: A young poet sets out into the wide world on a journey to find poetry; with the help of a few magical creatures, she finds more than she ever expected.Haruki Murakami HARDBOILED WONDERLAND AND THE END OF THE WORLD: Mad experiments with the unleashed potential of the dreaming brain.Vandana Singh OF LOVE AND OTHER MONSTERS: The main character wakes up from a fire and doesn't know who he is, but can sense and manipulate the minds of others. He is not alone in this ability. Singh takes us on a metamind ride.Shaun Tan THE ARRIVAL: A wordless graphic novel about immigration and displacement.Bryan Thao Worra ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE EYE: Speculative poems that take us from the secret wars of the CIA in Laos to the secret edges of the human soul and the universe.The Carl Brandon Society is dedicated to addressing the representation of people of color in the fantastical genres such as science fiction, fantasy and horror. They aim to foster dialogue about issues of race, ethnicity and culture, raise awareness both inside and outside the fantastical fiction communities, promote inclusivity in publication/production, and celebrate the accomplishments of people of color in science fiction, fantasy and horror.
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Heading to the NYC Comic Con

After two weekends of writers' conferences I'm off to the NY Comic Con with my husband and brother this coming weekend. I must be a glutton for punishment. I'm not attending on Friday because my brother will not be a slacker like his older sister and take a day off from work. I tried to convince him that it was the professional only day (until 3pm) and it might not be so overwhelming. No can do - that guy is super-responsible.So it's Saturday - ugh. I hope the crowds don't make me get 'the vapors'.
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Dossouye is in the house!

Time for some shameless self-promotion. But then, is there any other kind of self-promotion?I’ll get right down to it. A new novel by me is now available. Its title is Dossouye, and it is being published by Sword & Soul Media, through That’s right … print-on-demand. I’ll tell you the reason I went that route in a minute.The novel is based on several stories I’ve had published over the years about a black woman warrior named Dossouye. Her adventures take place in an alternate-world Africa that is not the same as the setting I developed for my other major character, Imaro. Dossouye’s tales appeared in several anthologies, including Amazons!, Sword and Sorceress and Dark Matter. I revised those stories so they would fit together as a narrative whole, and added a new novella.As for why the book is coming out via print-on-demand … on two separate occasions, separated by a time span of more than 20 years, my Imaro novels were published in the conventional manner: publisher pays advance, publisher prints books, publisher ties to sell enough books to make back the advance and other costs, and maybe pay author royalties. That paradigm didn’t work for me with DAW Books from 1981 to 1985, nor with Night Shade Books in 2006 and 2007. Both publishers discontinued the Imaro series because sales were not good.Before Night Shade pulled the plug after publishing revised versions of my first two Imaro novels (DAW managed to put out three; there are five books in all), I connected with a young man named Brother Uraeus. He works for a publisher, and aspired to establish his own print-on-demand imprint. He wondered whether I’d be interested in collecting the Dossouye stories into a single volume, to be published via print-on-demand.The idea sounded good to me. That way, both Imaro and Dossouye would be out at the same time.While we were putting this project together, I got the bad news from Night Shade. That was a setback, but it also made me all the more determined to make the Dossouye novel the best it could be. Uraeus was just as determined, as he went about designing and formatting the book. For the cover art, he enlisted the services of Mshindo Kuumba, a renowned artist and illustrator. Mshindo’s work completed the Dossouye package, and I’m proud of all aspects of the book.In the immediate future, I intend to publish the rest of my Imaro novels with Sword & Soul. For now, Dossouye takes center stage. She’s ready for you, and I hope y’all are ready for her.
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Chimu People on the 164-page double edition, out nowThe latest issue of the Cape Town based cultural and literary journal, Chimurenga, is a double-take on sci-fi and speculative writing from the African world, collectively titled “Dr. Satan’s Echo Chamber”. The title of the double-issue is drawn from a dub mix by the late Jamaican producer King Tubby.Chimurenga 12 is a collection of dystopian faction, which challenges, relentlessly, and throws rocks at the windows of the world. The issue features writing and art by: Allan “Botsotso” Kolsky, Koffi Kwahule, Joao Barreiros, Olufemi Terry, Doreen Baigaina, Stacy Hardy, Akin Adesokan, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, JG Ballard, Emmanuel Dongala, Blank du Blanc, Jean Malaquais, Liesl Jobson, Peter Kalu, Dominique Malaquais, Basim Magdy, Jean Lamore, Femi Rage Dawkins, James Sey, Minnette Vari, Teju Cole and Rana Dasgupta.Chimurenga 13 documents the making of several Afrofuturist projects, from the speculative engineering of Abu Bakaar Mansaray to the film-work of the Black Audio Film Collective and Jean-Pierre Bekolo, and dub/death-work of King Tubby. The issue also features: Angolan composer and theorist Victor Gama’s object-oriented music writing; John Edwin Mason on the making of Abdullah Ibrahim’s “Mannenberg”; Lionel Manga on future-present Douala; Baudouin Mouanda on SAPE; Pume Bylex on his paintings; Eyal Weizman on walking through Palestinian walls; Luca Frei on the Beaubourg underneath Paris and a discussion between Sartre and Nkrumah staged by the Sharzhad Collective.Since its very first issue in 2002, Chimurenga has received excellent reviews; writers, poets, scholars and journalists, among numerous others, have lauded its originality, the quality of its content and its willingness to tackle subjects other publications might consider too difficult or controversial to address.It is widely viewed as one of the most interesting and important publications available in post-apartheid South Africa and is fast gaining supporters abroad. Award-wining Kenyan writer and founder of Kwani, Binyavanga Wainaina, says “Chimurenga is the finest literary magazine in Africa”. Vanity Fair calls it “an uber-cool, multilingual journal spinning a funky mix of art, culture and political writing from and about Africa”. Chimurenga is available at bookstores across South Africa.ISSN 1683-6162
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Yesterday I stayed in bed all day and watched movies. I saw two movies I hadn't seen before. One was called Tomorrow (by writer Faulkner by way of director Horton Foote and actor Duvall) and the other was called Constantine with my lifelong crush Keanu Reeves. (In fact I have had such a jones for Keanu for such a long time that in Wind Follower I actually named my character Kaynu after him.)Anyways, Constantine --despite Keanu's gorgeous self-- just had me rolling my eyes. Hey, I'm okay with folks fooling around with Christian theology but what a mish-mash it all was! I mean...he had to look into the eyes of a black cat in order to enter hell. What's that about?"Tomorrow" on the other hand touched me -- although I think the actual Faulkner story would have touched me more. I can't help it. I'm a Black Jamaican but I have always had this fascination with poor white folks in Appalachia. Supposedly --at least this is what I pick up from the media-- these salt of the earth types would be the first to lynch me. I can watch movies about city sophisticates having all kinds of angst but the stories that really touch me are those about poor, country people, whatever culture they're from: China, poor white, Africa, Latin America, African-American.So there I was watching it and reminding myself that I haven't seen The Apostle in a while when it suddenly dawned on me that all my stories are about wars. Wars, small, great, undeclared, and recurrent. In Wind Follower, my main characters thought the human war was over and they figured that as long as they avoided the spiritual war, the spirits would ignore them. In Constant Tower, there's a war of a different kind going on. And in Inheritance, wars also abound.Of course all stories are about conflicts...and conflicts are another word for war. War against the self, war against nature, etc. Each author has her own opinion about what wars abound in this life. Romance writers concern themselves with the emotional wars at home and the wars between the sexes. Sometimes status and race are thrown in but for the most part, the characters in a romance story are dealing with their home culture and emotional inheritances and how their cultural inheritances conflict -- war with-- that of the one they have come to love. Other writers, on the other hand, deal with more political and social wars. And Christian fiction writers often deal with spiritual wars: the conflict between the self, the soul, and the spirit....and how that inner conflict is compounded when it encounters the world, the flesh, and the devil.I totally believe that a great romance is the best kind of story possible. Why? Because it concerns itself with love --which is eternal and which changes the soul-- and with the creation of a new family/community while retaining the best of one's self and one's community. In Romances, relationships are ultra-important.Now all this is tough for me to balance in a fantasy story which aims for action from the get-go. I, unfortunately, am fascinated by normal life --the normal life of the world we know, and the normal life of the fantasy world an author has created-- and what makes normal life tick. I'm a tourist/anthropologist at heart. This means that even when I create a fantastical world, if I'm not careful I'll find myself wandering leisurely among the poor folk of that culture, ambling along the country lanes...and not pushing the plot along. Romance writers and Christian fiction writers are used to this kind of slice-of-life stuff. They are used to slow country rambles with subtle small conflicts and stressors. Most fantasy lovers, on the other hand, are more into Constantine-type stories. They want a lot more action 30 pages of mucho drama, death, external warring. So I'm trying my best to get into that groove. What to do?Work at figuring out how to work with cross-genres, maybe. Thank God I'm still growing as an author. I hope that whatever path my stories take -- the gentle ramble or the page-turning adventure-- that my fans will walk lovingly and patiently with me. Thank you all.
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The Pedestal of Author

Yesterday, I received a sweet little e-missive from a fellow author. In it, she lovingly but firmly told me about the concept of The Pedestal of Author. Backstory: I've gotten mostly good reviews on Wind Follower. When I have gotten bad reviews, I let it slide. Everyone has an opinion. When I get a really, really, really bad review....where the reviewer obviously hasn't written the book....well, I actually try to defend myself. Which is a no-no in writing circles, I'm told.Anyway, the concept of The Pedestal of Author now has me thinking. What do I as an author think an author should be? What do I as an author expect my readers to think of me? What do I as a reader expect an author to be?In some cultures certain kinds of vocation and work are considered important or honorable or "great." Nice job if you can get it. For instance, teachers are generally honored in many cultures. Doctors and Actors are honored in the United States.In the black community, there is always so much pride and joy in great achievers. When I used to work in the high school I thought this pride in greatness was a bit dangerous. Kind of like an ethnic Cinderella Complex. Poor kids didn't want to be regular folks with normal jobs. They wanted to be famous rappers, great singers, sportscasters. It was as if their lives had been so bad that they only way they could overcome it would be to be in-your-face-famous with tons of bling, ho's, boy-toys, etc. I totally understand that. (And yeah, I'm actually cool with all those women wanting to hook up with Flavor Flav or Bret on VH1. You gotta do what you gotta do to get by. And hey, nice job if you can get it. But most people aren't gonna be famous. Fame is so important in our society. The nature of fame is that some folks simply are....and some folks aren't.But I'm an author. Plodding work, a work of endurance, a work that revolves around ideas. I'm not particularly famous, though. Although you'd think from the way some folks in the hood behave, I'm the hottest thing since Vanilla Chai.Hey, I don’t mind representing. What really makes my day at signings, etc is the love and appreciation my people have for me. They’re glad that I – a Black Woman– succeeded. If they are little old ladies, they ask where they can buy my book. When I tell them “from any bookstore!” they just smile and rejoice with me. Yes, I'm in a bookstore! When I say it's not self-published, it's from a traditional publisher, they really smile. When I say the book has so many religious stuff in it and so many racial stuff in it, but a secular publisher published it, they shout, "Praise the Lord! HE is able!" As a culture we have seen so many failures and struggles, that many of us still have a genuine joy and appreciation for those in our culture who have succeeded. Poor folks in the hood -- even the white ones-- love the idea that I'm an author.Yeah, I’ll admit it. I get all teary-eyed when some Public Service Announcement pops up which states, “A black man created this…” “A black scientist discovered that…” And, yeah, I’m glad when I enter a room of little old Black ladies and they get teary-eyed over me.Should we try to keep the mystique of Author Greatness? Do I OWE it to my people to behave like a real author, someone who symbolizes wisdom, persevereance, polish....and uh, maturity? If I DO try, how long can I keep up with it? Will I be able to be that other person long enough until it becomes second nature? When it become second-nature, will I become a pill, a know-it-all, or an object of pride and a help to all who know me?Lord, help my people to continue to do great things. I'm trusting you to help me write this new WIP. Amen.
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Phoenix TalesBy Gregory BanksWheelMan 2005 newsletter"...For an experience in description and emotion, this is good." - Piers Anthony, Author the Xanth series.Carole McDonnell, The Compulsive Reader, March 30, 2005"...stories about death could be troubling...(But) Greg Banks has written about it with hope, faith, (and) love..."Jennifer Murray,, May 3, 2005"...(Has) the same ironic, bittersweet twist (of) The Twilight Zone mixed with the acidic musings attribute(d) to Harlan Ellison."Kalaani, The RAWSISTAZ™ Reviewers, June 19, 2005PHOENIX TALES by Gregory Bernard Banks is a one of a kind book anyone would enjoy reading.Joe Murphy, reviewer"(When) I read Living with Mrs. Klase...I wept...Any book that can do that deserves the highest marks."Participating Blogs include:Dark Parables
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A bit of history

I’ll begin this blog with a bit of history: namely, an excerpt from an essay I wrote back in 1977. The essay was called “Why Blacks Don’t Read Science Fiction,” and it was first published in a fanzine called Windhaven. A revised version appeared in a book titled Brave new Universe in 1980. A later essay, “Why Blacks Should Read (and Write) Science Fiction, included in the first Dark Matter anthology in 2000, was a sequel to the earlier one, which was something of a rant.Here goes:In part, this article can be read as an open letter to science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon. The following passage from an interview published in Marvel Comics’ Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction provided the impetus:MARVEL: Do you suppose that one of the reasons SF is becoming more energetic is an input of new outlooks – increasingly as you say we have had more women writers, whereas in the past most of its writers have been men, WASPS at that, very few black writers …STURGEON: That’s been one of my concerns since 1951. I was at a science fiction writers’ conference in Milford, Pennsylvania, and I looked around at all these faces one night and realized that they were all white! And I thought back – every convention that I’d ever been to, they were all white; your average science fiction convention, even today, seen strictly from the outside, might just as well have been a convention of Southern Baptists. SF doesn’t have black writers because it doesn’t have a black readership. I don’t know the reason for that; I’d give anything to find that out.I did run across one black fan who said that the average black, especially the ghetto black, is far too concerned with reality to try to escape from it. His escapes really lay in the areas of music, and, to a degree, dancing – general mental/physical explosions – and not this intellectual kind of escape that science fiction represents. Still, I consider that not a decent answer at all. I would think that the black, with his particular strange kind of history where he was cut off from his own past and has been very put-down all these years, would welcome science fiction – partly as a learning experience, and partly as an escape. I can’t think of a greater escape from the ghetto than to escape to Mars or Jupiter or an alternate universe.My immediate interpretation of this exchange was that Sturgeon seemed to be saying that ghetto blacks would be better off shooting up on science fiction instead of heroin to escape their environment, while his “inside” informant rebutted that blacks have too much rhythm to become involved in something so abstruse as science fiction.My second reaction was to conclude that both Sturgeon and his informant were wrong. The black fan was merely reinforcing an old stereotype, while Sturgeon had seemingly not attempted to look at science fiction from a black reader’s viewpoint. It’s not just the conventions that have, until recently, been as white as a Ku Klux Klan meeting. So was the genre.In the 1930s and ’40s, and even through the “Golden Age” of the 1950s, the science fiction universe was akin to the proverbial driven snow. The writers of those times were capable of stretching their imaginations to the point of conceptualizing aliens with sympathetic qualities; even with attributes superior to those of humankind. But a black man or woman in a spacesuit was an image beyond the limits of early science fiction writers’ imaginations: even the infamous BEM (Bug-Eyed Monster) was more palatable to the tastes of the science-fiction readership of those formative years. Yet at that time the genre was no more or less racist than any other facet of North American life.There were some exceptions. One of the heroes of Leigh Brackett’s 1949 novelette “The Vanishing Venusians” was a black man named Sim, whose heroism involved the sacrifice of his own life to save those of his white companions. However, with all due respect to Brackett, stories such as hers were rare. If blacks appeared at all in the pages of the science fiction pulp magazines, they were presented as offensive “darkie” stereotypes. On the few occasions when they were not stereotyped, black characters did not have “Negroid features.” Edgar Rice Burroughs’ black pirates of Barsoom were an early example of these “non-black” blacks.In the “Golden Age” of the fifties, some breakthroughs from the previous pattern began to occur. The last man left on earth at the conclusion of Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End was a mulatto – still a non-black black, but at least Clarke acknowledged his racial identity without embarrassment. L. Sprague de Camp introduced Percy Mjipa, a Kenyan interstellar colonial official, in The Tower of Zanid. Mack Reynolds concocted a combination NAACP/Peace Corps in his “El Hassan” books, Black Man’s Burden and Border, Breed, Nor Birth. In this series, educated blacks from the U.S., England, and the Caribbean worked to lift their African brothers out of the darkness of colonialism. And “Way in the Middle of the Air,” part of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, describes a mass exodus of blacks from the benighted South.Such works, if happened upon by black readers of a generation ago, might have attracted them to the genre, if not active fandom. There was, however, a later work that seemed guaranteed to offend all blacks and many whites: Robert A. Heinlein’s Farnham’s Freehold. The first half of this post-nuclear holocaust/time-travel tale was liberal enough for its day. The family of Hugh Farnham, consisting of the patriarch, his wife, son, daughter, a young female houseguest, and a black houseboy, survive a nuclear war by taking refuge in Farnham’s backyard bomb shelter. Emerging in a world strangely untouched by radiation yet seemingly devoid of human life, the party, under Farnham’s direction, begins the difficult task of survival. Eventually Joe, the houseboy, becomes accepted as an equal in the family unit. Although this acceptance is not quite unanimous (Farnham’s son objects to taking orders from a “nigger”), Joe does get permission to marry Farnham’s daughter. Before the ceremony can take place, however, the daughter dies in childbirth (the child is not Joe’s).At that juncture, the second half of the novel begins. Farnham’s freeholders discover that they are not alone on earth after all. They’re abruptly swept into a futuristic black civilization. The nuclear explosion has thrust the freeholders forward in time, and they quickly learn that the future America is no place for whites. Blacks are now the masters; whites most emphatically slaves. Heinlein may have been attempting to point out what he calls the “poisonousness” of racism through this reversal of roles, but he also succeeded in giving flesh to all the white man’s nightmares: castration, cruelty, and cannibalism all vengefully visited upon the whites by a black society otherwise highly advanced, especially technologically.Heinlein, of course, has the right to say anything he wants in his works. However, I vividly recall the sense of outrage Farnham’s Freehold aroused in me when I first read it years ago. Had I not already been reading science fiction, Heinlein’s book might have prejudiced me against the genre. Yet Heinlein later turned around and made the hero of Starship Troopers black – though we don’t find that out until the end.Returning to the Sturgeon interview: at the time he seems to have come to his stated conclusions about the possible learning and escape value of science fiction for blacks, those conclusions were invalid and somewhat naive. First, an “escape” to a Mars or a Jupiter where the show is still being run by whites would not be an escape at all for blacks. And in the segregated fifties of the “Golden Age,” black science fiction readers would have learned that the stars were as closed to them as the lunch counter in a Birmingham Woolworth’s.That was then; this is now. How much do you think the genre has changed for people of color since the “Golden Age,” and even the 1970s? And how much has it stayed the same?
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Clarion West!

Way back when I applied to both Clarion West & Clarion. After submitting the applications and stories I completely forgot about it, until I got a call Sunday saying that I had been accepted to Clarion West and could I still attend? Unfortunately I couldn't because I had just gotten a new job that I started two days ago. I couldn't very well go up to my new boss and say "Hey, I got into a writing seminar I need 6 weeks off this summer. "But I've made myself a vow to actually start sending out my stuff in the next few months and to reapply to Clarion West next year and go no matter what, hell or highwater.
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Calling a Spade a Mardonalian (Part 2)

Sometimes, racism in SF is subtext rather than context. In E.E. Smith’s The Skylark of Space, the heroes are Earth’s best and brightest despite, when told by a malevolent entity there are many ways it could kill them, responding, “Name one!” Upon arrival on the planet Osnome they rescue an airship being attacked by flying monsters. The passengers of the ship are humanoids whose skin color is “a dark, livid… green.” In appreciation for their efforts the Terrans are given “slaves,” seven men and seven women “of a much lighter color” (than the people they rescued). One of the slaves connects the Terrans to a machine that teaches them Onmone’s customs and languages. It seems Mardonale (the land of the dark Osnomeans) and Kondal (the land of the light Osnomeans) have been at war for six thousand years and the “slaves,” members of the Kondal royal family, are POWs. The Kondalians tell the Terrans that the Mardonalians were going to kill them and plunder their ship. The Terrans escape with the POWs and flee to Kondal, killing several Mardonalians in the process. When the Mardonalians launch an attack on Kondal the Terrans use their ship to annihilate the Mardonalian fleet, even after it breaks off the attack and retreats.Now, not only do the (white) Terrans automatically side with the (light skinned) Kondalians against the (dark skinned) Mardonalians, they do so without ever asking who started the war or why. And despite the Mardonalians’ apparent “treacherousness,” they seem to have treated their captives well. There is never any mention of Mardonalian POWs in Kondal.In his introduction to 2001 commemorative edition of Skylark, Vernor Vinge says he is disturbed by the presentation of the Kondalonian policy of “eugenics via execution” in “mildly approving terms,” but since few SF writers had local examples of “real, monstrous villainy” pre World War II, he believes “such genocidal fantasies, paradoxically enough, sprang from innocence.” He is confident that “if modern science fiction writers were brought up in the context of the first half of the twentieth century, they would have the same blind spots.”Perhaps. But the real problem is not the innocence or ignorance of SF writers in the last century. The real problem is the casual acceptance of stereotypes in exchange for a “ripping good yarn” by SF writers and fans in this century.
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Calling a Spade a Mardonalian (Part 1)

In his essay “Why Blacks Should Read (and Write) Science Fiction” (in Sheree Thomas’ anthology Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora) Charles R. Saunders says, “The human imagination manifests itself in stories. Those same stories become legends, myths, the defining elements of a culture… We need to contribute to our culture’s overall mythology… and provide positive alternatives to the stereotypes that continue to plague us within that mythology.”This is not to say that writers should only “write what they know” (as SF by definition goes far beyond our everyday experience) or to say that writers cannot accurately or sensitively portray characters outside their personal experience. The best writers can (I’m thinking here of some of the stories by Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison), but sometimes, even the best writers can’t—or don’t.Sometimes the gaffes can be amusing, as in a “Star Trek” novel (I can’t remember which one) where Geordi LaForge (the character portrayed on film by LeVar Burton) is captured by some villains who are going to do something awful to him, something so awful that, despite his Starfleet training, he is afraid. How do we know this? Because, the writer said, “the color drained from his face” or “he turned pale—” I can’t recall the exact phrase, but it brought to mind those black characters in films from the 1940s who were soooo scared they turned white or the pigment flaked off their skin. (The interesting thing here is neither the writer, the editor, the proofreader, or however many people reviewed this manuscript caught this.)
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Bloodchild Revisited

This past Saturday my husband and I attended a local book club discussion on Octavia Butler's Bloodchild. In fact, we only attended because we saw a chance to talk to other black folk about great science fiction (of course, now I have you guys). My husband Stafford has read just about everything by the late Ms. Butler. I read one book in a series quite a few years back that really impressed me, but I hate having to follow a series so I lost track. I choose to read her short stories.I started Fledgling, but seriously - it scared me. I'm a serious wuss and it was dark!!! Honestly, I don't even know how I got through all of that H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King back in the day! I've grown up and punked out.Anyway, Octavia described Bloodchild as her "man pregnancy' story. "Bloodchild" first published in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, June 1984, won the 1984 Nebula Award for Best Novelette and the 1985 Hugo Award for Best Novelette.We had a fierce discussion over the slavery aspects of the story (some thought we only saw them as slaves because of our experiences here on earth) and the matter of choice. And of course, how men take the pain of true delivery - ha ha. This story truly highlights Octavia Butler's wonderful ability to get you moving and involved with the story immediately.If you haven't read it yet, you can read it in its entirety on the Washington Post Book Review site. It is also on Google Books, but several pages are missing. At least for a short time you can still find it on the old SciFi channel SCI FICTION page. This is a part of the Scifi channel's website that was supposed to be dismantled last year.It's a quick and fun read. Check it out, then come back here to discuss it. I want to hear more of the male side of the story.
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Sandra Kelly, HUCE; Kyndall Brown, Diane Williams, and Abiola AbramsWow! What a fun night! Sorry you missed it!Food, fun and books - what more can a gal ask for? Okay . . . maybe someone good at Photoshop to get rid of that too-too-too-tootsie roll. But I digress . . .We'll have another one in June 2008. Keep checking the calendar because we may have a mini-showcase in April at UMBC in MD.Howard University Continuing Education in partnership with Black Author Showcase™presents a Black History Celebration.Friday, February 29, 2008 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.Howard University, Continuing Education1100 Wayne Avenue • Silver Spring, MD 20910Refreshments served • Prize DrawingsFeaturing tastings of Niellys Ultimate products •FREE ADMISSION TO PUBLICFeatured author signings:Poetry from one of the youngest members of the showcase, Kyndall Brown, author of “I Ain’t Ascared of Nutin’ - The Evolution of Me”.Abiola Abrams, host of BET’s Best Shorts, indie filmmaker, and author of the new Simon & Schuster novel Dare.
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My Blog...

I guess every writer feels compelled to start a blog wherever they go. I want to start one, even though I am sure that I do not have much of interest to say at the moment. I would suppose that many of us are here because we are big Octavia Butler fans and have be inspired and/or influenced by her work.I am relatively yong, but believe me when I say I've had my share of struggles as a young black professional. I can only imagine the heights of the hurdles that Ms. Butler must to have over come during her lifetime in order to accomplish such revolutionary work. Work that obvious speaks past color lines as well as generations. I think her work is so extrordinary because she was able to look past her own time and imagine a futuer which, may have been riddled with problems, but still included representation of diversity in the population. I do thank her for that.
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Welcome To Black Science Fiction Society!!! It has long been a goal of mine to create an online community with a focus on Black Science Fiction. Not simply a group or magazine, but a interactive site where consumers as well as developers of Black science fiction can communicate together. My company is a multimedia company that develops various media from websites and graphics design to animation, video and DVD creation. I look forward to collaborations with those willing to work with us not only to be a great website but a hub of talent and development.
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Enough for Two or Three Days

This is dated now. It was written a year after "the storm". I will set the date to indicate that.I’m reading an examination of Josephus, a first century Jewish historian. In the introduction, the writer notes that now “history is most often produced by professionals”. This was not true in ancient times, she reports. History was written by those who participated in the events. As I continue reading, it’s obvious that the writer is doubtful about the results of such a history. Such a committed writer rarely achieves the detachment needed for a true history she notes. When I review my brief journal notations, I want to ask her: what constitutes detachment, what is a history, or another old question—what is truth?On August 27th at 12:47 pm, I write:Stuck in hurricane evacuation traffic. On Highway 61 The fact that I have time to write to write this should tell you something. The convoy left at 8:30 am. We’ve passed Clearview crossing. The news looks exceedingly bad. The storm is now a category 5. And can you believe that my neighbor is staying! Now, of course, N.O. is under a mandatory evac order and Jefferson Parish is practically there.I didn’t leave in total panic. I had time to pack the night before. I paid all my bills. I backed up current stories and poetry. I washed clothes and put them away. I swept and mopped. I was not going to leave the house a total disaster area. But I didn’t take my homeowners and flood insurance. I only packed enough for two or three days away. In fact, two of the convoy members tell me that should be the name of the movie that we expect—“Enough for Two or Three Days.” It’s the mantra that we hear repeated on every interview.On September 3rd, at 12:05 pm, I write:I’ve been in S’port a week and no word when we can go back. The city itself is 80% under water. Susan and Carolyn, her co-worker, have applied for jobs up here. I'm told that before we can go back we need to get cholera, tetanus, and diphtheria shots. Actually, it looks like it will be months before we can go back.I read and note now how scattered my thoughts were. I jump from hurricane news to family news. I had a chance to talk to my aunt and ask questions about my family history. I listen to her tales of my grandfather trying to convince my grandmother (who I never met) to move to Shreveport where he, although a farmer, had found a job building that era’s charity hospital. My aunt mentions that they had to leave Newellton at least twice because of a levee break. Considering her age, I wonder if one of those was the famous flood of 1927. Alas, she doesn’t recall the year. My sister calls to tell of volunteering at the Astrodome. I haven’t done anything. I’m safe and I haven’t done anything. Is this the Post traumatic shock that everyone talks about? I live on the West Bank and my home is probably ok.My friends and I plot the movie that we expect to see next year. A blond (of course) female tourist, her husband, and young child are frantic to escape New Orleans before the storm. On second thought, we decide that there have to be interlocking stories. There has to be a heroic tale of a doctor trying to save his diabetic patient. Being male, he’s allowed brown hair, but he’s also white. The dying patient is black. Somewhere in there, there must be a Mardi Gras parade, even though it’s September.For some reason, I have always sought biblical analogies. This time, I remember Jeremiah and find the reference in my godmother’s bible:Jeremiah 29I had you taken from Jerusalem to Babylonia. Now I tell you to settle there and build houses. Plant gardens and eat what you grow in them. Get married and have children, then help your sons find wives and help your daughters find husbands so that they may have children as well. I want your numbers to grow, not to get smaller.Pray for peace in Babylonia and work hard to make it prosperous. The more successful the nation is the better off you will be.There’s more than a little delightful frisson in this. Babylonia is of course present-day Iraq. Jeremiah’s letter to the Jews of that Diaspora tell them to make their homes in that country, just as my friends are now planning to remain in Shreveport. The politics of war have crossed the politics of disaster in a way that begs for poetry, but I can’t organize my thoughts. All I can do is watch the news and marvel, bite my nails and worry. The day ends with a reminder to hit the library to find my relatives in a Caddo Parish census. Too bad that 1927 wasn’t a census year. But then, neither is 2005.On September 4th, I note how many New Orlean musicians were rescued from their rooftops. They are the minor royalty of the city, I write. But unlike the mayor, there was no Hummer or special helicopter to whisk them away from danger. When I mention this to a friend, he laughs and agrees. He’s a musician himself and says his wife convinced him to leave. Remembering the traffic of the last evacuation, he might have stayed himself. He says that the musicians know the truth of their situation—some of them don’t own the property that they live in. Nevertheless, they also know that they are the royalty of N.O. I remember my anthropology teacher describing the human ability to hold two seemingly contradictory ideas in your head in one time. My house is flooded; my house is ok. I am the working poor; I am idolized by thousands.On the next few days, the news begins to switch from pictures to “analysis”; I begin to switch to NPR. Why did I switch? CNN et al are dependent on pictures, that’s what they do well. And if it requires showing the same ugly pictures over and over, so be it. NPR is dependent on words and stories. I wanted to hear personal stories, not CNN decrying the destruction of property as people died.Some of the criticism in both media were things we said ourselves as we left town. We passed boat dealers. Why wasn’t someone commandeering their boats? Well, in a country that idolizes private property, what does it take to take another’s private property? I listened as Nagin and Broussard said that private vehicles would be taken to save lives, but the boat dealerships were dark. The dealers had saved themselves. Later, on Google web sites, I saw school buses parked in flooded lots. Why weren’t they used to take people out of town? Was it because the big plan protected the supervisors but left the actual workers to fend for themselves? Well, they fended for themselves. They left town. Most corporations make arrangements for both the bosses and the people who actually do the work. It’s odd to consider that the same corporations that play musical chairs with their employee’s jobs do make plans that protect the life of the corporation by protecting the lives of its workers. I don’t even work for Entergy anymore, but I wished that the city of New Orleans organized bus drivers as well as Entergy did linemen.Later, I thought again. 400 buses. 50 people per bus. That is 20,000 people. It took my convoy thirteen hours to get to Baton Rouge. The buses would have been sitting in the same traffic, so that’s time for only one trip before the storm. Who stays in the Dome and the Convention Center and who gets on the bus? Some would have been saved. But that just makes the questions of the following day different questions. Mayor: How did you decide who got on the bus?Nagin is interviewed on Nightline and mentions that Jefferson Parish met people on the CCC with attack dogs. He complains that the officials there were more concerned about property than people’s lives. My godmother asks if that was a good thing to say and we all correct her. No, New Orleans will love this. Blacks in New Orleans will say, ‘he finally gets it!’On the 7th, I express the fear that New Orleans will be made an ‘American’ city. I’ve been saying that this is a chance to do things right. To bury power lines where trees can’t fall on them. To plant more sensible trees than those horrible palms. But I realize that other people will use the same expression to mean—to get those poor people out of our neighborhoods. The U.S. paid for people to leave New Orleans. Who will pay for them to move back? Won’t FEMA or the Red Cross simply echo Jeremiah’s statements? Make a home where you are? What will New Orleans do without her working class? Will the rich import people from Honduras and say ‘oh, by the way, you have to live over there? Not by me?’ In the old days, I’m told, the rich wanted their servants close by, 2 streets away. Now with mass transit, they can be isolated in their own neighborhood. The Irish Channel is only a few blocks from the Garden District. Where will the Honduras Channel be? And who will be there to complain? Not the working middle class who have secret dreams of living in the Garden District themselves. They are now moving to gated communities while they await the lottery ticket that will buy their own Uptown home. A week later, I read the same sentiment in the Wall Street Journal. Perhaps those nasty poor people won’t move back.There is one observation that I haven’t seen repeated in the media. Entire families were plucked off 9th ward homes. Mothers, children, fathers. Fathers? According to the U.S. media, poor Black fathers don’t exist. Yet, there they were. Clutching their children, searching for their wives, rejoicing to find their families. While the country worried about the price of the black gold of oil, the black gold of Black family life was left unremarked upon.I haven’t mentioned Shreveport. The confederate flag is still in front of the courthouse. But now there is an U.S. flag and a Louisiana flag that flies higher than it. There’s a plaque that identifies it as the last confederate flag. (Shreveport is where the Confederate army gave up in Louisiana.) As a historical artifact, it’s not quite as offensive. The librarians who see me twice a day on their Internet computers ask me what I think of their city. After I explain that I am from Shreveport, I tell them it is a surprise to find that Black people aren’t as invisible as they were when I left. They laugh. One suggests that I may come back to find a Black mayor one day while another laughs and reminds the first librarian that the last time that a Black man ran for mayor, a white man in a wheelchair beat him. We are talking in a new library dedicated to a Black educator. The back of the library looks over the rolling hills of Lakeside golf course that was always the ‘Black’ golf course. The library is beautifully equipped with both computers and African artifacts. It is both confusing and comforting to be in this city where everyone greets you. I keep waiting for old insults to reappear. This is not the city that I grew up in.On the night of the 9th of September, I wonder about the first Jewish Diaspora. The elite were taken to Babylonia. Jeremiah was forced to leave for Egypt. The poor remained in Judea. 70 years later Persia (now Iran) conquered Babylonia and they published a writ allowing the Jews to return. Few of the Babylonia Jews returned. In fact, Iraq still had a large Jewish population until Israel was formed. Like the Babylonian Jews, some New Orleanians will take Jeremiah’s advice and make new homes. How will they affect their neighbors? How will their neighbors affect them? Today, I slip one of the few CDs that I bought with me into the car stereo and drive to Kroger’s—a store unknown in New Orleans. The singer sings, Chazak, Chazak. Be Brave, Be Strong. It is the line that the congregation repeats to the Torah reader when one book is finished and another is begun. Luckily, there is no one around to see dissolve into tears.
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Free Within Ourselves...

One of the most promising of the young Negro poets said to me once, "I want to be a poet--not a Negro poet," meaning, I believe, "I want to write like a white poet"; meaning subconsciously, "I would like to be a white poet"; meaning behind that, "I would like to be white." And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself. And I doubted then that, with his desire to run away spiritually from his race, this boy would ever be a great poet. But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America--this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible.

[Last sentence]: We build our temples for tomorrow, as strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, 'free within ourselves.'

More at: The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain, Langston Hughes
1926, The Nation, Courtesy of University of Illinois English Department

Tommie Smith, John Carlos, '68 Olympic Games
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Evil Walks. Part 7.

The night air was still hot when Willy Martin stepped out of his black SUV and onto the sidewalk near the Fallen Angel Tavern on Pittsburgh‘s North Side. The young black male unbuttoned two buttons of his blue shirt to try and relieve his chest from the heat. He put his keys into the pocket of his blue jeans and then walked inside the tavern. Once inside he saw that the tavern had a dark, gloomy atmosphere. And it was not as crowded as he expected. There were only a few people sitting at the four small round tables at the right side of the tavern. Past the tables there was noone playing at the two billiard tables in the back. At the left there were only two men sitting at the bar.

I could use a drink.Willy thought. He approached the bar and was greeted by the burly, bald headed bartender wearing a black short sleeved Pittsburgh Steelers T-shirt. “I’ll have a beer,” Willy told the bartender.

The bartender reached under the bar and brought up a dark, slim bottle of beer. He opened the bottle just as Willy brought out his wallet.

“That’s $2.50,” said the bartender.

Willy gave the bartender Three one dollar bills. “Keep the change. And I’ve also got an appointment to see the Sandman.”

The bartender pointed to an open doorway in the back past the billiard tables. “In the back. He’s waiting for you.”

“Thanks,” Willy replied. He took a swig of the cold beer from the bottle and then walked to the doorway.

Willy entered a small room with a dim light. Standing against the left and right walls were tall stacks of boxes containing a variety of alcoholic beverages. In the middle of the room was a small round wooden table positioned under the dim light bulb on the ceiling. Sitting at the table was a mysterious figure dressed in black pants tucked into black knee high boots. He had a black long sleeved shirt and necktie. His black gloved hands were resting on the table top. He was also wearing a black hooded cape. The hood concealing the features of his face. This was the person that Willy came here to see. The Sandman.

Willy was nervous in the Sandman’s dark presence. He took a deep breath and a large sip of his beer. Then he sat down at the table.

“So you’re the Sandman,” said Willy. No offense. But you look a lot more sinister in person than you do on your website.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” the Sandman replied. “And you’re Willy Martin. Am I right?”

“Yeah.” Willy took a brief moment to study the Sandman. “So, nice outfit you got there. Do you wear this all the time?”

“Occasionally in December I’ll take a break and change over to the Santa suit. Of course I’d never admit that in public.”

“I see,” Willy returned. He took another moment to study the Sandman. “If you don’t mind me asking, aren’t you hot in that outfit?”

“I’m good. Where I come from I’m used to the heat. Although I probably won’t make the cover of GQ. So besides inquiring about my fashion sense is there anything else I can do for you?”

Bill nodded. “Yeah. There is. I’ve got sort of a complicated problem.”

“Complicated problems are my specialty,” the Sandman told Bill.

“Yeah. Well maybe you can help me out with mine. You like dogs?”

“Only if they’re cooked well done.”


“Only kidding.”

Willy continued. “Well I’m into dogs. But not exactly as pets. I’m into dog fighting. I hope you don’t have a problem with that.”

“It’s not my job to make judgments. But you’ve caught my interest. Go on.”

Willy took a quick swig from his bottle. “I live in Clairton. And I run a dog fighting operation. It’s a pretty lucrative business. If you’ve got the right dog and have it trained right then you can make a ton of money. This is just between you and me. Right?”

“Don’t worry. I promise not to post this conversation on my Facebook page.” the Sandman assured Willy.

“That’s good. But anyway, about my dog fighting operation. I was making some big money. I had this pit bull, Gladiator. One of the best fighting dogs I ever owned. I was number one.”

“Top dog,” the Sandman commented. “No pun intended.”

“Yeah. Something like that,” said Willy. “Then this guy from McKeesport, Leo Whitley, shows up with this big black pit bull mix named Odin. Now this guy is a real first class big mouth. He shoots his mouth off and issues me a challenge. So I take this guy up on his challenge. Then me and Gladiator go to his arena in McKeesport to fight.”

“I’ve got a pretty good idea where this is going,” the Sandman commented.

“Gladiator got his ass kicked by Odin. He was torn up so bad that I had to put him down. And to make matter’s worse I made a big ass bet with Whitley. And I lost that too. So not only did I loose my best fighting dog but I lost $2,000.”

The Sandman crossed his arms against his chest. “An interesting case. Just out of curiosity what pisses you off the most? Losing the dog or losing the money?”

“What kind of question is that? The dog and the money. They both go hand in hand.”

“You didn’t answer the question.”

Willy was becoming irritated at the Sandman’s question. “Ok. The money. Mainly because I don’t have it. Do I look like Donald Trump or something? But I told Whitley I’d take his dog on again tomorrow night. This time double or nothing. It’s my chance to get even. And that’s where I need you to help me. I need you to give me another fighting dog. But this dog has to be a killer. A monster. A real badass.”

“Well. This is certainly different,” said the Sandman. “I’ve had people ask me for dragons. But this is the first time I’ve ever had a request for a dog.”

Willy was intrigued. “A dragon? Can you give me a dragon?”

“No. That would be stupid,” the Sandman scolded him. “What the hell are you going to do with a dragon? Where the hell are you going to keep it?”

“Ok then. Scratch that idea. Just give me the dog. And a badass dog. I want a monster,” Willy reminded the Sandman.

“I can do that. But first the question is what can you do for me?”

Willy suspected what the Sandman was referring to. “You want one of my dreams? Yeah. I can give you one. I had this one last night. I saw myself walking down this street in Pittsburgh. I walk up to this newsstand to buy some cigarettes. I take my wallet out to get my money and I drop it. Then this strong gust of wind comes up from nowhere and blows all the money out of my wallet. I see all these bills spinning through the air like they’re caught in a hurricane. All my money is flying away. It’s flying high up in the sky and I can’t reach it. I keep jumping up and trying to grab some of it but it’s up too high. What do you think a dream like that means?”

“I would say that it means that you should apply for a mastercard. To be honest your dream sounds kind of lame. On the lame scale of one to five. One meaning too embarrassed to listen, I’ll give your dream the top score. But to give you what you want it’s acceptable.”

Willy smiled. “Then we’ve got a deal?”

“It’s a deal.”

“So where’s the dog?” Willy asked.

“This is a bar. Not a pet store. The dog’s outside.”

Willy was filled with excitement over the prospect of seeing his new fighting dog. As well as a rematch against Leo Whitley’s dog, Odin. He rose up from his seat. “Thanks Sandman. Thanks.”

“And trust me. This dog is a real monster,” was the Sandman’s final words.

With his beer bottle in hand Willy walked out of the room and left the bar. The night air was still hot when Willy stepped outside. He looked around but saw no dog waiting for him.

“What the hell is this? Where the hell is my dog?” Willy wondered. “We made a deal.”

Willy felt something brush against the back of his legs. He turned and looked down. Standing near him was a small black dog the size of a Chihuahua. With white stripes going along the sides of it’s body like a tiger. The dog stared up at Willy while baring it’s teeth.

“What the hell is this?” Willy spat out. He wondered if this was the dog that the Sandman was offering him. This small frail looking creature. He considered the very sight of this animal to be an insult. There was a chain around the dog’s neck with a shiny metal tag attached. Willy reached down to look at the tag. There was a word engraved on it. “Buzzsaw.”

The dog, Buzzsaw, began to growl at Willy and took a snap at his finger. Willy was just able to draw it back in time.

Willy was tempted to kick the dog down the street. But then a better idea came to his mind. Take his dissatisfaction with the dog to the Sandman. In a fit of rage Willy threw his beer bottle against the sidewalk. The bottle shattered upon impact. Then Willy stormed back into the bar and returned to the room. The Sandman was gone. Angry and desperate for answers, Willy went over to the bar to speak to the bartender.

“Hey dude. Where the hell is the Sandman?”

The bartender shrugged his shoulders. “Beats the hell outta me. He must have stepped out.”

“What do you mean he stepped out? He was just here.”

“I don’t keep track of him. I just mind my own business and tend bar. You want him then maybe try his website or something and come back tomorrow night.”

This was all a big damn joke, Willy thought to himself. He had do choice but to admit defeat and go home.

Willy left the bar. The small dog was gone. He was unconcerned about it’s whereabouts. He returned to his SUV and sat down in the driver’s seat. Still angry over his bad deal with the Sandman. Then he heard a high pitched growl at his right. He turned and jumped up. Startled when he saw the dog sitting on the passenger’s seat. It was still baring it’s teeth at him while growling.

“How the hell did you get in here?” asked a surprised Willy.

The dog continued to growl at Willy. This only served to highten Willy’s anger.

“Ok you little four legged sardine. You think you’re some kind of a badass? Well, I got a surprise for you when I get home,” he told the dog.

With the growling dog in his vehicle Willy had a long, tense drive back to his house in Clairton. After he parked his SUV he grabbed the still growling Buzzsaw by the back of it’s neck and carried it into his one story white house. Once inside Willy took Buzzsaw down into his basement. The heart of his dog fighting operation. In the middle of his dank basement was a large area circled by a four foot high chain link fence. This was his dog fighting arena. There were three large cages at the left and right of the arena. Inside the three cages at the left were pit bull terriers. All of them letting loose with loud barks and growls when Willy walked down the wooden basement stairs.

“You miss me, boys?” Willy asked the dogs. He walked over to their cages and held up the small dog, Buzzsaw. “I brought you some take out.”

Willy opened the gate to his arena and dropped Buzzsaw inside. He then took his keys out of his pocket and walked over to unlock the dogs cages. The first dog darted out of the confines of it’s cage and ran into the arena to attack Buzzsaw. The other two dogs followed close behind. Willy smiled as he watched the dogs run into the arena to deal with this small snack that he had brought them. He had given them such a treat several times before. Allowing his larger dogs to attack and maul to death a small dog in order to keep their bloodlust alive. He considered this to be the perfect training regimen for fighting dogs. However, this time Willy received an unexpected surprise when he saw the first dog lunge for Buzzsaw. Buzzsaw jumped back and then leaped forward and clamped it’s jaws onto the larger dog’s neck. Willy’s smile faded as he heard the pit bull let out a pained whine, then spun around in a wild frenzy in an attempt to shake Buzzsaw loose from it’s neck. It was to no avail as Buzzsaw’s grip was tight.

The other two pit bull’s let out a chorus of vicious barks and growls. But they both kept their distance from the wild melee. The pit bull spun around in circles several times. It squealed in pain. Then began to let out a hoarse wheeze, as if it were unable to breathe. It fell onto it’s side, it’s legs thrashing wildly. Buzzsaw held it’s grip onto the pitbull’s neck. The pitbull let out a gurgle, then it’s legs stopped moving and it remained still. Willy could only stand and gaze wide eyed at what he had just seen. The other two dogs had now stopped barking and still kept their distance from Buzzsaw. Buzzsaw released it’s bite on the pitbull’s neck. He turned and looked up at Willy. Then began to bare his teeth and growl.

Willy still could not believe what he had just seen. This small dog had just killed one of his most vicious killers. And the other two dogs appeared to be in no mood to take up the fight. He went into the arena and picked up Buzzsaw. Willy smiled again. Then he laughed.

“Well I’ll be damned,” he said to Buzzsaw. “You filthy little monster. I’ll be damned.”

The Sandman came through for me, Willy thought. A plan now came to Willy’s mind. He could still have his rematch with Leo Whitley and his dog, Odin. And Buzzsaw was going to be the perfect trap.

The next day Willy made a call to Leo Whitley to set up the rematch. And to make the challenge more interesting Willy informed Whitley that he was offering to double the bet. As he expected, Whitley was quick to accept the offer and set up the fight for 1:00 in the afternoon.

Thirty minutes before the fight Willy went down into his basement to get Buzzsaw. As he walked down the steps he noticed an eerie silence in the basement. His remaining two pit bulls were not barking and growling as usual. They remained quiet, sitting in their cages. This is weird, he thought. He walked over to the dog’s cages. Still silent, the dogs looked up at him and whined. Then they looked over to the small, blue plastic dog cage sitting in next to the arena’s gate. Willy had locked Buzzsaw in there last night after he had killed the pitbull.

“What the hell’s the matter with you guy’s?” Willy asked. Both dogs seemed to be nervous. He wondered if they were mourning the death of their partner after it had gone up against Buzzsaw last night. Willy had taken the dead dog and buried it in the woods. Then he dismissed such a notion. “No way. “You guys are just dumb animals. It’s not like you’re gonna go out and buy a sympathy card or something when another dog dies.”

Willy went to the dog cage. “Ok. Here’s the star of our show. You’re gonna make me a ton of cash little fella.”

Willy picked up the cage by it’s handle on top. The cage had an unexpected weight to it. “This thing feels heavier than it did last night,” he said. He looked into the cage at Buzzsaw. He took a long, clear look at the small black dog with it’s white tiger-like stripes. Buzzsaw seemed to be bigger. “ No. Can’t be. You were a runt last night. You’re still a runt. But you’re a runt that’s gonna make me a mint if you do to Odin what you did last night.”

Willy put the cage with Buzzsaw into the front seat of his SUV and then drove off to Leo Whitley’s place in McKeesport. At Whitley’s, Willy took Buzzsaw down into the basement where a large group of young white and black men were gathered around a circular chain link fence arena. From somewhere in the basement came the sound of a barking dog. Willy pushed his way through the crowd of men to reach the tall black man dressed in black shoes, blue jeans, and a black tank top. This was Leo Whitley. Leo smiled and laughed when he saw Willy.

“Here he is, guys. I didn’t think he’d have the guts to show his face here. Unless he’s got the money he owes me. But here he is,” Leo cheerfully shouted out to the other men.

There was a round of laughter from the men. Willy smiled. Jackasses. Five minutes from now you won’t be laughing, he predicted.

“So where’s this killer dog you were telling me about?” Leo asked Willy. “You sounded pretty desperate to get this re-match.”

“You and I have got some unfinished business,” Willy told Leo. “But you’re just small potatoes. I wanted to clear up my business with you so that I can get back on track with bigger and better things.”

Leo stepped closer to Willy. Stopping a foot away from him and gazing into his eyes. “Is that so? And just what do you have to pull this off? Where’s this killer super dog you told me about?”

“Right here,” Willy’s answer. he held up the cage to show off Buzzsaw. Upon seeing the small dog Leo burst out in a lout fit of laughter. As did the other men.

“You’re got to be kidding me,” Leo cried out Willy. He then laughed again. “Instead of a dog you brought an hors D’oeuvre.”

“My challenge still stands. Unless you’re backing out.” Willy told Leo.

“Man, I thought you were gonna bring me a fight. A real fight,” said Leo. Grinning from ear to ear. “Take your dog home and use him for fish bait.”

“What are you? Scared?” Willy taunted Leo.

“Hell no. I’m not scared of you or your little elf dog.”

“Then let’s go,” Willy demanded. “I didn’t come all the way here to listen to you talk and smell your bad breath. Like I said, I’m doubling my bet. Unless you’re scared.”

The grin left Leo’s face. “There you go with the scared talk again. You’re already into me for $2,000. Are you sure you wanna loose $4,000?”

“I don’t plan on losing,” was Willy’s answer.

For a moment Leo stared back at Willy. Then he smiled and gave a nod. “Ok then. If you insist on making yourself look stupid then I can play along. Put your baby doll mutt into the arena. Give him his fifteen minutes of fame. He‘ll have less time than that to live once Odin gets ahold of him.”

Leo turned and shoved his way through the mob of men to reach a metal cage. The source of the barking.

Willy endured more laughter from the other men as he opened the cage and pulled out the growling Buzzsaw. He placed Buzzsaw down onto the center of the arena, then stepped out just as Leo returned holding a large black furred pitbull mix by it’s collar. Leo’s prized fighting dog, Odin. Odin turned it’s head to the left and right to snap and growl at any man within reach. He lead Odin inside the arena and then slammed the gate behind it.

“Ok then. This fight is on!” Leo shouted to the crowd of men.

While listening to the crowd shout out the name, Odin, to cheer the dog on Willy watched as the much larger Odin, growled and charged at Buzzsaw, while at the same time Buzzsaw charged at him. Buzzsaw clamped his jaws down onto Odin’s throat and held on fast, strangling the dog. The once cheering crowd of men grew silent. After a few minutes Odin collapsed to the floor and continued to struggle until it died. Buzzsaw released it’s hold on Odin’s throat. Then he bit Odin’s throat again. This time tearing out a large chunk of the dog’s flesh and devouring it.

Leo was at a loss for words as he looked down at the dead body of his once champion fighting dog. Slain by a dog that was ten times smaller. Willy looked over at Leo and smiled. Where’s your big mouth now, Whitley? Then he laughed. “Looks like we’ve got ourselves a winner,” he boasted to the crowd.

Leo opened the gate and entered the arena to examine his dog. Buzzsaw stopped tearing at Odin’s throat and backed away when Leo approached. Willy also entered the arena to retrieve Buzzsaw. Leo kneeled down at Odin. Then he stood back up and confronted Willy. There was an angry scowl on Leo’s face.

“What the hell is this?” Leo growled at Willy.

Willy was still smiling at his victory. “What do you mean?”

“You know what the hell I mean!” Leo shouted. Taking a closer, menacing step towards Willy. “There’s no way in hell that your little elf of a dog can take out my big gun. Not unless you cheated somehow.”

“Maybe the dog was drugged up or something,” a male voice behind Leo called out.

“Yeah,” Leo nodded. “Maybe you set this up to make your little pea shooter dog drug Odin. That’s the only way that I can see you pulling this off.”

Another male voice cried out from behind Leo. “Cheater.” In agreement, the other men repeated the accusation.

Willy laughed and held his hands up in front of him. “Whoa. Hold on. I didn’t cheat any damn body. A drugged up dog? Sounds to me that you’ve got a problem being a sore damn loser.”

Willy turned and bent down to pick up Buzzsaw. The dog let out a loud, high pitched snarl and then took two swift bites at Willy’s fingers. Willy felt a sharp pain shooting through his hand when he drew it back. Two of his fingers were bleeding. He was shocked as he looked down at Buzzsaw.

“Why you little monster. You…you…why you.”

Willy turned around to look at Leo. Leo took a gun from out of his pocket and aimed it at Willy. “Get the hell out of here,” Leo snarled at Willy.

“Now hold on a second. I got a win here. You owe me money.”

“This aint Monopoly,” said Leo as he held the gun up higher to Willy’s face. You cheated me. You think I’m just gonna let that go?”

Leo was backed up by a round of jeers from the other men. He took a step closer to Willy. “Take your damn dog and get outta here. Or we‘ll carry your ass out.”

Being out numbered and out gunned as well, Willy had no choice but to comply.

It took Willy a great effort and another bite to his hand before he was able to get Buzzsaw back into his cage. During the drive back to Clairton Willy was seething with anger over the outcome of his plan to get back at Leo. It was a fair victory. But Leo refused to pay up. Willy had no options to retaliate.

Willy parked in front of his house and opened the back of his SUV to get the cage containing Buzzsaw. When he lifted the cage he noticed that it was now even heavier than it was earlier.

“What’s up with this?” Willy said to the dog. “Did you gain weight from my blood or something?”

Willy took Buzzsaw into the house and put his cage down in the basement with the other dogs. He had no other alternative now but to go back upstairs and get something to eat while still brooding over the way that Leo had treated him.

The hours of the day passed. Then night had fallen. At 11:30 Willy retired to bed. He was sleeping soundly until he was awakened by the sound of a loud commotion coming from his basement. Loud howling. A crash. Then more howls. Willy jumped up. Clad only in his grey boxer shorts he dashed out of the bedroom and entered the basement. Willy flicked the light switch at his right and descended the stairs. He looked to his left at the dog cages. Both cages were torn open. He jumped back, shocked at the sight of both of his pit bulls completely torn apart. Their dismembered body parts laying in a large pool of blood splattered across the floor. Standing in the middle of this carnage was a huge black dog, standing three feet high, with distinctive white, tiger-like stripes along it’s body. The dog was busy devouring chunks of the slain pit bulls. It’s long fangs creating loud cracks at it was chewing flesh and bone alike. Then this dog stopped eating when it saw Willy standing on the stairs.

At the sight of this dog and it’s familiar appearance only one name came to Willy’s mind. “Buzzsaw?”

Buzzsaw dropped the chunk of meat that it was chewing on and rushed over to the stairs. He looked up at Willy and opened his mouth wide to let out a loud, deep toned roar, while baring his long, sharp teeth that were stained red with blood.

Willy bolted back up the stairs and slammed the door behind him. He slid the deadbolt lock into place and stepped back. He was shocked to see that the frail wooden barrier would not stop the Buzzsaw. The beast broke through the door with little effort. Willy screamed and made a dash for his kitchen. When he entered the kitchen Buzzsaw leaped on top of him and forced him down. Willy fell face first onto the hard, white floor tile with a painful thud. Letting out loud, deep toned growls Buzzsaw began biting at the back of Willy’s legs. Willy screamed and thrashed his legs about as he felt Buzzsaw’s long teeth sinking into his flesh. Willy kicked Buzzsaw back. Then he scrambled to his feet and went to the white metal cabinet next to his stove. He was in dire need of a weapon. Moving quickly he opened the top drawer and his right hand thrashed about inside until he located a long butcher’s knife.

Willy held out the knife just as Buzzsaw lunged for him. The dog snapped it’s vicious jaws down on Willy’s hand while taking the knife into his mouth in the process. Willy screamed out in pain again. In one swift bite his third and fourth fingers were bitten off. Buzzsaw chewed three times, then spit out the knife at Willy’s feet. Willy grabbed his aching right hand to try and stop the bleeding. He backed up against the stove.

“Stay back. Stay away from me!” Willy pleaded. He was terrified at what this growling, fanged monster would do next. Buzzsaw took a step forward. Willy shrieked. He turned and then leaped up onto the stove.

“Stay away from me!” he shouted.

Buzzsaw growled and charged forward. Willy crawled on top of the counter next to the stove. Then he climbed on top of the refridgerator. Buzzsaw bolted towards the refridgerator and took a leap to snap at Willy.

Terrified for his life, his bleeding hand burning with pain from his lost fingers, Willy tried to plead with Buzzsaw. “Take it easy little guy. I mean big guy. Calm down, ok? Just take it easy. I’ll give you anything you want. I got cash. It’s in my wallet on my dresser. Take it. You want my car keys? Maybe you want a ride or something. I‘ll take you anywhere you want to go.”

The only response from Buzzsaw was another angry growl. Then a loud roar. He jumped up to snap at Willy a second time.

“Ok. Take it easy. Maybe you want something to eat.” Willy reached over to the wooden cabinet mounted on the wall next to the refridgerator. He opened it and grabbed the first item he saw. A box of Rice Crispies. “Here you go. Here you go. You’re gonna like this. This is good stuff.”

Willy opened the box and poured the cereal down onto the floor. “You want some milk with that? I got some milk and sugar to go with that. No. Dammit. I’m outta sugar.”

Willy dropped the cereal box onto the floor. He reached down to the refridgerator to open the top freezer compartment. “I got a lot of other stuff you can eat. Just not me. Ok? I got a chicken. A roast. Steaks. You like steaks, don’t you? I got New York strips. I’ll just pop everything in the microwave.”

Buzzsaw reached up and grabbed the freezer compartment door in his mouth. He gave a tug and pulled the entire refridgerator, causing it to tilt and fall over. In the process sending the screaming Willy dropping to the floor with a loud crash. Buzzsaw was on top of Willy in an instant. Willy struggled and screamed as he felt the pain of the dog’s fangs tearing into his back and his arms. He felt the intense pain as a large chunk of his flesh was bitten away from his right forearm. His blood was flowing from his fresh wounds and staining the white kitchen floor. Willy tried to crawl away but he could only manage to squirm a few feet before Buzzsaw bit down onto his right foot and began to drag him out of the kitchen. Willy was still screaming for his life as Buzzsaw dragged him down into the basement to meet his final end.

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